ATR was designed in the 80's after which there has not been very much development, 212 being launched in the 90's. DHC-8 has even longer history, though Q400 was introduced in 2000. A regional jet of comparable age includes BAe 146 which is quite uncomfortable.
Not quite true. The next ATR development was the -500 series, and more recently the -600 series, which has advanced quite a bit in terms of efficency, speed, payload and noise compared to the -200 series. It´s not that they´ve been standing still.
A cleansheet turboprop with today's technology and requirement would be comfortable enough compared with any RJ that passengers would not pay the difference.
They would be more fuel-efficient which is very important as passengers will be more and more environmentally conscious. And a turboprop will emit less noise which is important for airport surroundings and may allow to keep airports in the centres.
There is a saying in the market that any re-engining (!!) of the ATR series with either a new P&WC engine or a GE38 derivate needs to be about 15 % more efficient in fuel-burn and another 20-25% cheaper in maintenance. If this is already said for a re-engineing on a well known frame with limited development costs associated, how much more efficient do you need to have a cleen-sheet design to make it commercially worthwhile? And: have you ever flown the ATR? Not much of a difference compared to a regional jet... or a B737 or A320 for that matter. Cabins no more differ, really.
[quote="YIMBY]Unlike US, in Europe and Asia there are lots of short routes, optimal for turboprops, flown by RJs up to 747's. For 20 - 50 min flight times the speed difference in rather negligible, and the landing speeds of turboprops should be increased anyway to keep them in pace with jets. There is definitely demand for a new RJ sized turboprop (though I cannot say if it is worth the huge development costs - that also depends on the existing portfolio of the manufacturer).[/quote]
Yes and no. In Europe the number of turboprop operations is going down except for niche markets, not so much for regional jets but more for LCCs and rail plus road transport getting more competitive over time. Plus small-(plane)-scale operations simply getting more expensive. 19-seaters are principally completely out of the market, 30-seaters fight for their living with limited success except for niches, 50-seat turboprops try to soldier on, but again, the market is getting limited. 70 seat turboprops have a future left, but even they have to fight. Take a look on KLM´s network out of Amsterdam, which would be prime example for a turboprop on routes such as London, Norwich, Bremen etc, all barely 200 nm stage length, if at all. Still flown by Embraer 175/190 as the fleet flexibility is larger.
Whilest I would love to see a new 30/50/70 seat family I doubt that there is any commercial sense really left in it. In my opinion the only way forward would be a re-working of existing frames of either the Q100/200 or SF340 fleet, kind of "extreme plane makeover", but even then I´ve doubts that there is commercial sense in it.
In my opinion this is a market segment which will - long-term - mostly disappear in major markets except for niches. Little sense in developing anything new.[/quote][/quote]